It’s baffling that even in 2019, most affordable and many high-end phones do not support HD streaming on apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos and Google Play, irrespective of the subscription pack.
Primarily, the issue is the missing Widevine DRM Level 1 (L1) certificate which is required by all major content streaming platforms for HD streaming. OnePlus was using the L3 certificate instead that authorizes access to SD content only.
We never quite noticed this omission before it was pointed out for OnePlus phones. Now we have been looking for DRM certificate across affordable phones and most of the phones in this budget have Level 3 (L3) certification (even when the hardware is L1 compatible).
At the same time, many affordable phones from Motorola, Asus, and Xiaomi that we tested do have Widevine DRM L1 Certificate but still do not support HD streaming.
That’s because apart from DRM L1 certificate, additional approval by services like Netflix and Amazon Prime is also required for HD streaming. Devices that aren’t acknowledged by Netflix won’t support HD streaming even if they have DRM L1 certificate.
List of phones that support HD Streaming Under Rs 40,000
We have mentioned a few phones that we have tested ourselves for HD streaming support. The list is not exhaustive and contains phones that we have come across.
- Nokia Phones – Nokia 6.1 Plus, Nokia 7.1, Nokia 8.1 Plus
- Samsung phones – Most new affordable Samsung phones support HD Streaming. These include Galaxy M20, Galaxy M30, Galaxy A50, Galaxy A30, Galaxy A7 (2018), Galaxy A9 (2018)
- Lenovo Phones – Motorola One Power
- Huawei Phones – Honor View 20
- Xiaomi Phones – Poco F1
- OnePlus phones – Oneplus 6, OnePlus 6T
- LG Phones – LG V30, LG G7 ThinQ, LG V40
Apart from the phones, we have mentioned, all high-end flagship phones from LG, Huawei, Samsung, Google, and Nokia have HD streaming support.
How to check if your phone supports HD Streaming [Video]
What is Widewine DRM certification and why is it required?
Widevine Digital Rights Management (DRM) standards have been defined based on device security for content protection. They are meant to prevent copying or piracy of data that these services push across the internet to their users.
Services that use DRM can stream befitting content quality depending on the security and hardware at the user end without much work on the server end.
Widevine standards integrate Common Encryption (CENC), licensing key exchange, and Dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP (DASH) for secure transmission.
There are three certification levels: L1, L2, and L3. Your phone needs to be L1 certified in order to be able to stream HD content.
Not only Android phones but many Laptops and most Browsers on Desktop support L3 certificate only. For instance, Chrome Browser on Desktop is L3 certified and can only stream in HD using Netflix and other services.
Why Manufacturers don’t add DRM L1 certificate?
The most important point to note is that all modern chipsets are compatible and Widevine doesn’t charge any licensing fee. So, the only reason why manufacturers are ignoring this is oversight and because users are not particularly asking for this.
Can you get Widevine DRM L1 certificate with OTA update?
Yes, earlier it wasn’t possible to push Widevine DRM L1 via OTA update, but this changed after 2017. Poco F1 was the first phone to get DRM L1 certificate via OTA update.
How to check Widevine DRM Security Level on your phone?
If you want to check the DRM security level on your phone, you can simply download the free DRM Info App from Play store.
The app is pretty simple. All you need to do is open it and check DRM level under “Google Widevine Modular DRM” heading. If you see L1, your phone supports HD streaming. If you see L3, your phone only supports SD streaming. Android phones only have L1 and L3 certification.